The Wyoming Workforce Development Council adopted the Next Generation Sector Partnerships (Next Gen) approach in May 2018 to put industry in the driver’s seat and are already seeing results.
The Next Gen approach aligns with the state’s Workforce Development Council’s mission to assist growing industries, build businesses, and connect people with better jobs.
The council launched Next Gen with the support of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, the Wyoming Business Council, the Wyoming Department of Education and the Wyoming Community College Commission. All of these agencies are represented on the council.
Next Gen veers from the traditional government model where economic developers, educators, and workforce professionals in the public sector are viewed as dictating their vision to industries.
Under the Next Gen approach, The Workforce Development Council has asked industry leaders to form regional partnerships and develop priorities that address the shared workforce and growth needs in their industries. The public sector then works hand-in-hand with these partnerships to move their priorities forward. That could be the local community college adding a program or certification that meets a regional industry priority. Or it could be the local workforce one-stop center holding its first construction industry-specific job fair.
So far, Wyoming has had a faster ramp-up of Next Generation Sector Partnerships than any other state. Since 2011, more than a dozen states have launched 80 Next Gen Partnerships nationwide. In Wyoming, 12 industry partnerships have launched in manufacturing, healthcare, finance and insurance, construction trades, hospitality, and technology in nine regions. A few more partnerships are expected to form into 2020.
Each partnership has identified its priorities for mutually beneficial growth in their region. At least one priority for every partnership has been specifically tied to industries demands for a workforce with better basic skills, new technical skills, or skills tied to key occupations. Other priorities have focused on building career awareness among youth and adults and marketing the region and the industry to attract skilled workers.